I want to talk about The Point. What is The Point of the things we do? I have been watching this whole situation unfold with Scott Adams and his blog and then I have been watching the Ashton vs Village Voice thing go on as well and I started to think what is the driving force behind everyone’s actions.
We are activists. Our purpose in life is to change things in the world that we find to be wrongs against the greater good of humanity, but what happens when ideals clash and it is activist vs activist and more importantly what happens when personal pride mingles with our activism? For instance, I believe that what Scott Adams wrote in his blog about human nature and rape to be hurtful to rape victims and, if nothing else, in poor taste as a public figure to whom many men look up to. I asked him to apologize and though he has said a lot of things to me (directly and indirectly) none of them have been apologies and , in fact, I may even go so far to say at this point he owes me a personal apology, but I won’t even go there. I really don’t care if he thinks I am an idiot with low reading comprehension or an embarrassment to my cause. I just want him to realize that his words have further implications than he realizes, that in the future he will consider that before hitting publish and apologize to all the people his words hurt. That is my motive. It has been hard to hold back rather than retaliate with some angry quips of my own…trust me… but it would not be for what, I believe, is the greater good here… so I refrain.
Perhaps Scott Adams is fighting for something he sees as the greater good. Perhaps he thinks that the freedom of expression on the Internet is more important than feelings. I don’t know what he is arguing for though because he hasn’t offered to speak with me. So from my point of view, right now he just seems to be angry.
You will notice that I use “I believe” a lot in this, and my other blogs. This is because I have seen enough life to know that my point of view may not always be right. It may be completely wrong sometimes, if I am made aware of facts to which I was previously unaware of. I have found peace in humility and have no problem admitting when I am wrong and moving forward should that ever be the case. This does not mean I will cede, as I believe I have shown in my past, as long as I believe I am working towards the greater good of humanity.
This brings me to the Ashton Kutcher vs Village Voice debate. Basically Ashton is calling out village voice for facilitating sex trafficking through their websites…which they are…. and Village Voice is calling out Ashton for using flawed statistics… which he is… But we have to look at this argument much deeper than the simple debate between the two parties. The Village Voice is facilitating sex trafficking on their websites for profit and while they will use the guise of “freedom of the Internet”, I doubt that many would include the freedom to sell children for sex on their site as a basic Internet right…. and yes… They do sell children on their site…I know because I deal with children who have been sold by their pimps on backpage.com everyday.
How many children are sold on their sites or in America as a whole? I have no idea… I have read statistics saying anywhere from 100,000 to 300,000. I have heard others argue those numbers to be way too high and I have heard law enforcement agents that I trust, say that the reported numbers are very low. We have to realize we are dealing with a problem which, while it is not new in its nature, it is new in its recognition as a problem. The TVPA was only written in 2000. Before then Human Trafficking (and therefore sex trafficking) was not recognized in the legal system. In 11 years we have made great progress towards the greater good, where people are not forced into commercial sexual exploitation either as adults or as children. But, there is much research to be done and with the current stigmatization of victims statistics will continue to be off for quite some time.
So then we must look at Ashton’s motivation for stating those facts. His motivation was to get Village Voice to stop selling sexual services on their websites. His motives were for the greater good of humanity. Village Voice was not. As much as people claim that the existence of sex trafficking is a hysterical con by non-profits trying to get money from the government, I can tell you again that that is not the case. Every person I know who works in this movement does so with their entire heart and soul and usually their own paycheck. If there were non-profits out there doing that why wouldn’t you call them out by name so that we could stop them from doing that… that is what would be for the greater good right?
I guess that is where the problem of ego comes in. For some reason people correlate the allowance of open discussion as a sign of weakness. This should not be the case. So much energy that is wasted in the personal attacks on those behind causes and running arguments in circles. Couldn’t we use this towards making things better? Use this energy towards understanding each other rather than trying to make ourselves better than the other person we are “against”. Spend this time trying to figure out what is best for the people we are arguing on behalf of? What is the reality of that situation? I guess it is frustrating for me to see the millions of dollars that are being thrown around in this argument when the social workers who barely make rent have to use their own money to buy necessities for the girls who have been bought and sold on Village Voice.
I do not want to compare the issue with Scott Adams to the Ashton vs Village Voice issue because that is a much larger problem, but I think it is another more personal example of energy wasted on pride in activist arguments. I will back Ashton and the rest of the activists fighting to shut down the escort services section on backpage.com because I don’t want any more of the girls I work with to have to say they were sold on there and because I don’t have to hear about how easy it is to break a girl and put her on Craigslist anymore. I just wish we could all focus… no superfluous attacks on things that do not relate to the greater good of the public and more work on getting everyone to where they need to be.
More Than A Purpose